Is it courteous to reward bounties or accept certain answers even when you don't feel any of the answers deserved the acceptance or bounties?

I've found myself in the situation in the past, and I decided to just accept the answer(s) provided.

Is this a courteous thing to do? Or would it be better to just leave the question with no accepted answer because you simply do not feel the answers are good enough?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This conundrum is just a reflection of the fact that the bounty system, as implemented, is quite at odds with the way problem solving works —in out discipline, at least. Who would Hilbert have awarded bounties to if he had posted his list of problems here? $\endgroup$ Jun 8 '13 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ If an answerer cooperates, you can hand out the bounty for them to reassign it to the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 8 '13 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ You can award the bounty without accepting an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Maesumi
    Jun 8 '13 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ Seconding Maesumi's comment: accepting an answer that does not solve the problem is misleading to others who will come across the questions/answer later. You can decide to give a bounty just for the effort, but please do not do this with acceptances. $\endgroup$ Jun 9 '13 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Ah shoot, it's too late now...I was once told that it was rude to not accept answer. I think it was when the "acceptance %" was still in use. $\endgroup$
    – Hawk
    Jun 10 '13 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ @sidht: nothing stops you from unaccepting the answer... $\endgroup$ Jun 10 '13 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ I think 6 months ago it mattered to the point where people would even answer questions. $\endgroup$
    – Hawk
    Jun 13 '13 at 5:55
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    $\begingroup$ I believe is was Leibniz who said, "In doing mathematics I serve a higher power, my reputation on math.stackexchange.com" $\endgroup$
    – Zackkenyon
    Jun 22 '13 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ Actually just out of curiosity, is one allowed to ask the question again after a long period of time and one doesn't feel like throwing away anymore of his reputation? $\endgroup$
    – Hawk
    Jul 1 '13 at 3:17
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    $\begingroup$ If you ask a question that has already been asked and answered, it may (and should) be closed as a duplicate. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '13 at 11:10

I think this is a case of "do it if you feel like but don't do it much". Doing it much pulls the MSE-experience into a direction away from the math content towards some social and individual feeling; and no doubt that shall increase the number of "talky-talky" "questions" and possibly a "business" with bounty points. On the other hands - for MSE being a nice place we should remember we are human beings and a prise of friendlyness, courteosy and cordiality is very healthy for an otherwise creative and constructive clima.
So my proposal: do it if you really feel so, because of some more than average sympathy, but don't do it too often. And if you see, that it happens already in other cases, then do it even less. But at least you are (in my personal view) welcome to express your behave(your intent in a short comment.


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